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blue carbon

Blue Carbon: Chris Villiers and Nadeem Khan join Argus Media’s podcast

By News

Tune into a new podcast episode. It’s all about blue carbon.

Argus Media interviews Chris Villers, our Director of Portfolio Management and Nadeem Khan, founder and CEO of Indus Delta Capital. In this episode, they share their extensive blue carbon expertise, discussing how these nature-based projects differ from other, natural climate solutions. 

Indus Delta Capital develops one of our flagship portfolio projects, Delta Blue Carbon. As the largest blue carbon project in the world, it conserves and restores 350,000 hectares of mangrove forest in southeastern Pakistan.

Chris and Nadeem explain how mangroves capture and store more carbon than any other type of tree. As such powerful carbon sinks, Delta Blue Carbon’s mangrove restoration efforts contribute to global climate mitigation. The project will sequester 142 million tonnes of CO2e from the atmosphere over its lifetime.

Listen to the episode here

Delta Blue Carbon: The world’s largest mangrove project

By News

Mangrove forests hold a powerful climate mitigation potential. These coastal trees remove three to five times more CO2 per hectare than upland tropical forests. This is just one reason why the project developer, Indus Delta Capital, and the Government of Sindh are committed to restoring and conserving Pakistan’s mangroves.

Since 2015, Delta Blue Carbon has been protecting and restoring tidal river channels and mangrove forests on the southeast coast of Sindh, near Karachi. With a project area spanning 350,000 hectares, Delta Blue Carbon is the world’s largest blue carbon project.

The deforestation problem

This richly diverse landscape provides critical ecosystem services. It sustains productive fisheries, serves as an important feeding ground for migratory shorebirds and supports local people, many of whom make a living from collecting shellfish and crabs. More than 42,000 live within the project zone and 60 coastal villages directly depend on the mangrove forests. 

But despite the clear long-term value of the delta’s mangroves, the area has seen deforestation on a massive scale. Before the project activities started, the region was in a vicious cycle – many people lived in poverty and lacked access to education, clean energy and clean water. Faced with such deprivation, many had little choice but to cut mangroves for fuelwood or to clear coastal forests to make way for grazing. 

To counter the region’s deforestation, Delta Blue Carbon is growing mangrove saplings throughout the delta. All species used in the restoration work under the project are native to the coastal areas of Sindh.

To date, more than 90,000 hectares (of a planned 220,000) have already been planted. The project expects to remove 142 million tonnes CO2 from the atmosphere. From these efforts, it will generate more than 128.5 million high-quality, nature-based removal credits over its 60-year lifespan. 

The market-based solution

The income from carbon credit sales will be spent on addressing the underlying drivers of degradation by providing jobs, education, clean water and clean energy facilities to people in need in Karachi. Delta Blue Carbon is determined to help the area transition from a vicious, to a virtuous cycle – one in which restoring the landscape brings greater economic certainty. 

The project will create 21,000 full-time jobs. Employees will receive specialist training and capacity building for project staff, communities and local NGOs. The non-carbon benefits to local people have been valued at $134, for every tonne of carbon removed from the atmosphere.

Adaptation and mitigation

Mangroves are amongst the most productive marine ecosystems on Earth. Collectively, the wood and soil of mangrove forests along the world’s coastlines hold three billion tonnes of carbon.

Yet, mangroves provide more than pure carbon sequestration. Dense networks of mangrove roots help limit the damage caused by tsunamis and floods by reducing wave energy and shielding coastal communities from the full destructive forces of storms. Long-term, mangrove forests are also a natural barrier against coastal erosion. 

On a busy coastline like Karachi’s, mangroves’ ability to clean pollutants from the water is particularly useful. These forests are essential for maintaining water quality as they filter and trap sediments, heavy metals and other pollutants in their roots. By revitalising the delta’s coastal habitat, the project generates substantial climate change adaptation and mitigation benefits for the region.

Without Delta Blue Carbon, this restoration and conservation work would not have been possible. A lack of governmental capacity was preventing the kind of ground-up change required to transform Sindh’s mangroves. Today, we see the regeneration of Karachi’s mangrove success story as a true testament to local efforts and the power of private capital to drive environmental action.

Blue carbon: What is it and how can it help the climate?

By News

For millions of years, marine and coastal ecosystems have been silently removing carbon from our atmosphere. As natural carbon sinks, the world’s mangroves, seagrasses and tidal marshes have shielded us from the full impacts of our own greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, these ecosystems are under threat; human activity is undermining their ability to draw carbon from the atmosphere. If we fail to invest in the conservation and restoration of these species, we could almost be accused of shortsightedness. In the face of climate emergency, we must use every tool at our disposal to mitigate environmental risk. The time is now – we must preserve and scale blue carbon climate change solutions if we are to secure a liveable future for all.


The brilliance of blue

Mangroves, seagrasses and tidal marshes are the most established blue carbon climate solutions. To varying degrees, these solutions are already available and able to receive funding through carbon markets.


As natural environmental cleaners, mangrove forests bring an impressive array of climate-positive benefits. They absorb and store CO2; process chemical runoff, including chromium and lead, and even help to break down the toxins in raw sewage dumped into the ocean.

Not only do these forests remove more carbon from the atmosphere than any other type of tree, but also reduce the impact of storm surges by up to 50% in at-risk, developing countries. Given that climate change is predicted to increase the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, investing in effective, natural barriers has never been of more importance.

In this way, people are gradually realising the value of these saltwater trees. Taking into account their ability to counteract anthropogenic carbon emissions, their capacity for disaster risk reduction and their existing worth as richly biodiverse ecosystems, their value is estimated to be in the region of $462 billion to $798 billion per year


Seagrass has also received an increasing level of attention for its potential as a blue carbon climate solution. As one of only three seawater flowering plants, seagrass is found in shallow, coastal waters. As carbon dissolves in the sea, seagrass absorbs it to use as a building material for new roots and shoots. This process is extremely rapid, taking in carbon 35 times faster than a tropical rainforest. Even when seagrass dies, carbon is (if undisturbed) stored securely in sediment on the ocean floor. Although seagrass carbon capture projects can be expensive, the UK, Sweden and the US are all currently investigating the future potential of this solution. 

Tidal marshes

Tidal marshes are among the world’s most effective carbon sinks. These grassy wetland habitats flood during high tide, absorbing seawater and quickly capturing the dissolved carbon it contains. Yet, these ecosystems are in need of our conservation. Pollution and degradation can disrupt the nutrient balance of water and reduce the capacity of tidal marshes to sequester carbon. Looking to the future, the Blue Carbon Initiative has committed to focus on the conservation of tidal marshes as well that of mangroves and seagrasses.


Case study: Delta Blue Carbon, Pakistan

blue carbon project

Delta Blue Carbon mangrove plantation, Pakistan. Picture credit: Indus Delta Capital

Mangroves are estimated to cover between 12 and 15% of the world’s coastlines. While this may sound substantial, it actually translates to only 0.1% of the planet’s surface. Coastal mangrove cover decreased by over one million hectares between 1990 and 2020 due to illegal logging; raw sewage dumping; chemical run-off and pollution from rapid urban development. You can monitor the state of the world’s mangroves using this tool from Global Mangrove Watch. 

It is not all doom and gloom for mangroves. In Pakistan, the tide is turning and forest cover is beginning to increase. As one of the biggest mangrove-restoration programs in the world, our flagship portfolio project, Delta Blue Carbon, has certainly played a part in reforestation efforts. To date, the project has planted nearly 100 million trees. Over a 60-year time period, it expects to sequester 142 million tonnes of CO2 and generate 128.5 million high-quality, nature-based carbon credits. For more information on nature-based carbon credits, please refer to this article

On paper, mangrove restoration may sound simple. However, it is essential that any trees planted are region-specific if they are to bring genuine, lasting benefits to the local area. Indeed, the success of Delta Blue Carbon is a testament to the project’s commitment to working with local stakeholders. Throughout its lifespan, Delta Blue Carbon will offer full-time employment to at least 21,000 people, many of whom bring extensive knowledge of the region’s local environment.


What’s next for blue carbon?

Blue carbon climate solutions, like Delta Blue Carbon are certainly gaining traction. Just last year, Respira collaborated with Climate Impact X on a landmark, oversubscribed auction for blue carbon credits. With 250,000 tonnes of carbon removal credits selling for USD $27.80 per tonne, the auction was a promising indication of future demand for high-quality, nature-based solutions.

As such, we should look with interest to prospective blue carbon solutions under investigation. McKinsey writes on the ‘emerging’ and ‘nascent’ blue carbon solutions such as seaweed forest plantations, kelp farming or a move away from sea bottom trawling as this fishing method disurbs stored carbon that could otherwise be secured for millenia. Reef-based blue carbon initiatives are in an even earlier stage of research but there is hope that the carbon sequestered throughout the lifespan of shellfish is of a greater volume than that which is released during the formation of the reefs themselves. 

While much remains uncertain regarding the futures of these emerging blue carbon solutions, we know one thing for certain: we must take action now to unlock the full mitigation potential of our coastal and marine ecosystems. To learn more about blue carbon and other nature-based climate solutions, please refer to our flagship portfolio projects on our website: